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Complete Guide to Sneaker Terminology & Terms | Ox Street

Buying Guides

Melanie Kwok
June 10, 2022

Discover our complete guide to sneaker terminologies, jargon and terms to help you be better prepared next time you are shopping for new kicks.

With the sneaker community growing with new collectors, many newbies might be a little confused about all the sneaker talk and jargon. Understanding the meaning of these terms is essential to know exactly what you are buying and not be completely lost when talking about sneakers. The Ox Street team's got you covered with our complete guide to sneaker terminology where we help you decipher the meaning of the different terms you might encounter when you are shopping for new kicks.

Shoe Box/Release Terms

Here are some of the terms you might encounter on the sneaker’s name or on the box and wonder what it means. 

General Release 

General release (GR) means sneakers that are not a limited edition and are generally made available by most retailers where you can just walk into the store and get them at retail price with relative ease like the classic Nike Air Force 1 that everyone should own.

Nike Air Force 1 White
Shop Nike Air Force 1 White on Ox Street

Premium 

Denoted by PRM, these are slightly better than GRs as they are made from higher quality materials and with some intricate details. 

OG

OG means original and refers to the very first time the model of Air Jordans was released. OG should not be used for retros or re-releases, even if they look almost exactly the same because it really isn’t. 

Trophy Room x Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG SP 'Chicago'
Shop the Trophy Room x Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG SP 'Chicago' on Ox Street

Retro 

A retro of a Jordan is basically a model of sneaker that has been released previously (the OG). They give sneakerheads another chance to cop a pair if they missed the initial release or if they wore out their first pair, especially if the sneaker was really popular or hard to get.


Hyperstrike

Hyperstrike or HS are one of the most exclusive sneakers that are some of the hardest to cop. Only released in limited quantities, majority of them are given to friends and family (FNF) of the specific brand employees, the artists and celebrities. An example would be the Nike Air Force 1 “Playstation” which was given to Sony employees only in 2006. 

Quickstrike

Quickstrike or QS which has been printed on boxes since the early 2000s are hard-to-get unannounced releases that hit stores quickly, in limited quantities. They used to not have release dates tagged on them until recently. While QS sneakers are not as exclusive as HS, but still pretty hard to get as they are usually only available in Tier 0 stores that carry exclusive sneakers. 

Dunk Low Japan QS 'What The'
Shop the Dunk Low Japan QS 'What The' on Ox Street

Player Edition vs Player Exclusive 

Both abbreviated with PE, these two terms mean slightly different things. A player-edition sneaker means it was designed for a specific player and made available for retail, usually in limited numbers. A player exclusive, however, is also designed for a specific player but never intended for retail. Usually designed only in the size of the particular player they were designed for, these are extremely rare and cost a lot on the resale market should you be lucky enough to come across one. 

Special Project

Special Project (SP) are sneakers created as part of NikeLab releases and also some other special collabs. They are made of one of the highest quality for Nike, and are really as its name suggests, special.

NRG

NRG means Energy and are reserved for Nike’s special, most hyped collabs. These are usually limited-edition releases or special edition kicks, which makes them hard to get and crazy expensive in the resale market. 

Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG NRG 'Not For Resale' Red
Shop the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG NRG 'Not For Resale' Red on Ox Street

Types of Sneakers:

Beaters

These are the go-to sneakers that you just always go back to wearing again and again perhaps everyday, even if you have many other pairs in your collection. These are the ones you don’t mind wearing out and getting them dirty.

New Balance 550 'White Green'
Shop the New Balance 550 'White Green' on Ox Street

Factory laced

Factory laced sneakers are those that retain the characteristic lacing they leave the factory with, which is an indicator of them being unworn. 

Colorway 

Used to describe the unique color combinations found on that particular model of sneaker and to differentiate it from other styles of the same model. Some notable colorways that you are sure to have heard of are the ‘Bred’ and ‘Chicago’. 

Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG 'Bred' 2013
Shop the Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG 'Bred' 2013 on Ox Street

Size run 

The range of sneakers sizes the retailer has in stock. If they have sizes 6-12 then they are said to have a full size run (FSR).

Grade School/Preschool/Toddler/Baby Crib

GS/PS/TD/BC are shoe sizes produced for children and even infants. 

Sneaker transaction terms:

Deadstock

Deadstock (DS) are old sneaker releases that are brand new, factory laced, and unworn. And by unworn, we mean not even tried on at all. Very-near-deadstock (VNDS) means they have been tried or worn very briefly, used to describe the sneaker’s condition but honestly, its just not DS. 

Brand New In Box

Brand New In Box (BNIB or NIB) literally means sneakers that are brand new in the original shoe box, unworn.  

Streetwear Community Terms:

Collab

Short form for collaboration, collab means the brand is working together with another party for that particular sneaker. It could be another brand like the sacai x fragment design or celebrities and artists to design the sneaker. 

Flip flop

Used to describe sneakerheads who change their opinion about a sneaker release at the last minute from a ‘drop’ to a ‘must-cop’. 

Fragment Design x Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Retro High
Shop the Fragment Design x Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1 Retro High on Ox Street

Grails 

Grails refers to the number 1 dream sneaker that is usually hard to get because of its rarity or high price, but you would love to have it to complete your collection. Usually the one we swear we will no longer need anything else once we get our hands on it, that is until we set our eyes on the next pair to try to cop. 

On Ice 

Keeping a pair of sneakers ‘on ice’ means a pair of deadstock sneakers you are saving and haven’t worn yet. 

Got those down? Now you are ready to tackle all the sneaker talk and navigate the marketplace with your new vocabulary from the kicktionary. The sneaker community is always evolving and growing, so keep a look out for new terms that are made up along the way. 

Melanie is a contemporary art enthusiast, writer and cultural research strategist whose practice explores the areas inbetween art, design, commerce and the cult of collecting.